Michel Barnier says 'no decisive progress' on central issues in latest Brexit talks

The EU's chief negotiator has criticised London for demanding the "impossible"

Michel Barnier says 'no decisive progress' on central issues in latest Brexit talks

David Davis (L) and Michel Barnier (R). Picture by: Wiktor Dabkowski/DPA/PA Images

The EU chief Brexit negotiator has said there has been no "decisive progress" on key issues in talks with the UK.

Michel Barnier said the two sides are still "quite far" away from being in a position to begin talks on future trade arrangements - which the UK is hoping to begin next month.

Mr Barnier was speaking alongside the UK's Brexit Secretary David Davis after a third round of talks in Brussels over Britain's departure from the EU.

He said there had been some fruitful discussions - including over Ireland and the status of border workers - but also struck a critical tone.

"This week provided useful clarifications... but we did not get any decisive progress on the central subjects," the EU negotiator said.

The EU wants to make "sufficient progress" on three key divorce issues - UK's financial obligations to the EU, also called "Brexit bill"; the citizens' rights; and the Irish border - before moving on to discussing a future relationship and trade deals.

The UK maintains some of these divorce issues are "inextricably linked" to a future relationship - a position that was reiterated by Mr Davis.

Mr Barnier scolded London for demanding the "impossible" - including having a say on the EU's single market rules while being outside of it - in a series of position papers the British government released last week.

He said both sides disagreed again on the EU's demand, firmly rejected by Britain, that the European Court of Justice must be allowed to police the enforcement of rights of EU citizens residing in Britain after Brexit, and vice versa.

"Which such uncertainty - how can we build trust and discuss future relationship?" he said.

"At the current state of progress we are quite far from being able to say that sufficient progress has taken place."

Mr Davis, trying to strike a more optimistic note, said there had been "some concrete progress", but acknowledged that "there remains some way to go".

He called for "flexibility and imagination".

He also said the British government had a duty to the country's taxpayers to interrogate the 'Brexit bill' rigorously.